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July 2021

England leads the world in sporting self-delusion.

By Tony Attwood

English football is all a-flutter.  Our very own Smoking Jack has declared that only real Englishmen should play for England.  Mr Wenger has said that the rules indeed need sorting as otherwise the international matches become just another club type tournament.

And just for a laugh, Greg Dyke, the Football Association chair, has said that England have set the target of winning the world cup in 2022.

In reading all this, and all the other comments of late that speak of England leading the world in the organisation of sporting events, and how we are the envy of the world in terms of our legacy from the Olympics (presumably by giving West Ham loads of dosh which might otherwise have gone to schools) there is only one conclusion: England leads the world in sporting self-delusion.

There are many examples one could give in relation to this, but I’ll settle for by Massimo Marioni article in August 2010 in the Metro in which he reported that “Sepp Blatter hints England’s 2018 World Cup bid leads the way.   We got 2 votes (one was our own) and then moaned a lot, noted how corrupt Fifa is, and then refused to leave it, instead kow-towing to the organisation and now talking about winning the world cup.

It is conceivable that England might get to Brazil next year, and if Massimo Marioni and co will be back telling us that a) it matters and b) we will win it.  Those who think the opposite (ie a) no it doesn’t and b) no we won’t) will be forzen out of the media, and our location for expression of discontent will once again be Untold and similar blogs that fight the corruption and madness of international football.

Sometimes it does look as if the FA is actually the marketing arm of Ukip (a fanatical right wing political party in the UK that wants the kingdom to leave the EU “because economically we don’t need them”.   They get lots of votes and have won seats in the European Parliament.)   It’s all the fault of those nasty foreign types.  If only we could run it we’d show the world what’s what.

English football however is not standing still, for we now have John Beck involved in bringing forward the desperately needed new coaches something which Untold pointed out centuries ago was the central reason why England does so badly in the world cup.

Which is fine except that the methodology of Beck is a Wimbledon/Stoke/Cambridge Utd type of long ball game.  (Beck is the man who paid bonus money to the three Cambridge United players who could kick the ball furthest each week – and in doing this he took Cambridge from the fourth division to the second and almost the first with this style of play – the style that took Wimbledon into the first, and Stoke as well.  The last I heard of him he was with one of my local teams, the bankrupt Kettering Town, who have been wandering from ground to ground of late facing demotion after demotion).

The Observer newspaper came up with another interesting anecdote I hadn’t heard before – Beck mis known as Dracula, as he sucks the life out of football.  The FA said, “The FA employ John because of his understanding of coach education and of the FA’s playing and coaching philosophy, which he fully believes in.”

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And just as Wimbledon invented a new style of football (“kick the ball to the corners, give them a throw in, muscle the ball back; mark up from a corner kick by facing the opponents and blocking them off; forget the ball…) so Beck had the grass left to grow longer at the corners so when the long ball was kicked there, it would slow down.  The pitch was always the opposite of Arsenal’s smoothness – a rough field that prohibited any passing game.

Wimbledon played ghetto blasters next to the away team’s dressing room to disrupt their team talk.  Cambridge made the away dressing room unbearably hot.   Presumably the FA will now be going down this route.

The FA has a motto: “A world class organisation with a winning mentality”.  Make of that what you can.  

On 9 June 2010 I wrote an article which compared the number of players, number of clubs, number of coaches, and level of success internally across a range of countries.   While I was on holiday in Guernsey recently I picked up a Daily Telegraph (not my normal reading matter) and found much of the research from that article republished.  No acknowledgement to Untold of course, but even so, it is nice to know we are noticed.

What the original analysis found was that there are only 2769 coaches in England holding the three top coaching qualifications. Spain has produced 23,995, Italy 29,420, Germany 34,970 and France 17,588.  It is coaching levels that determine international success primarily, and there’s no reference to this.  But not Beck’s type of coaching.

Every year the number of players who qualify to play for England, and who play in the Premier League goes down.  Today the BBC announced their latest findings and show that the number is now at its lowest level ever.

So the response of the FA is to bring in a man renowned for the tactics of anti-football, and to suggest that we might further exploit the already liberal views as to who counts as English.   In short, there is no addressing of the problem – meaning an enthusiasm for finding ways around it.

I think that we, as Arsenal fans, can be proud that Arsenal has stood out against this nonsense and given the top talent from around the world (including the top British talent) the chance to shine at playing beautiful football, not long ball anti-football.  I think we can be proud that players like Ramsey have been helped to survive the results of anti-football, and that despite the best efforts of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal movement who found him “not fit to wear the shirt” have been brought through so that their abilities can shine.

And I think we can be proud that we have stood aside from all this nationalistic nonsense which casts the British as somehow different from all these cheating foreign types who have taken over the game.

Remember how Roy Keane said, “I think Wayne [Rooney] will have a big problem with the boredom, mentally trying to build up for a game.  English and Irish players are the same, I don’t think we are good at hanging around hotels and training camps in the middle of nowhere. As you get older you might be married and have kids, you might appreciate the peace and quiet, but Wayne is still young, he’s pretty active, mentally.

“It doesn’t suit England being stuck in hotels. That was a problem at the last World Cup. I think they need breathing space. There is a lot of media intrusion with England, but you have to give players a little bit of freedom. Of course you have to careful, you can’t be giving the lads licence to do what they want, then you are back to Gazza and the dentist chair.

That’s our problem – playing against foreigners who cheat by being able to cope with hotels.

Never mind, that old long ball anti-football will sort it all out.


54 comments to England leads the world in sporting self-delusion.

  • WalterBroeckx

    “That’s our problem – playing against foreigners who cheat by being able to cope with hotels.” Now that sentence made me laugh out loud. 🙂 🙂

    But indeed it is a sad fact that the number of higher educated coaches in England is so low compared to other countries.

    And making that Beck person responsible is hilarious. Or maybe the FA wants to win some youth tournaments as at that age you can still win by bullying the opposition. But when they have grown up those skilful players from other countries will play you from the closet to the wall
    As a funny Flemish expression goes meaning that you won’t even touch the ball or get near to the ball.

  • nicky

    The answer is simple, according to my Gran (who cleans at the Emirates)
    When the England team travel abroad, they should always go self-catering. In this way boredom would give way to cooking, laundry and cleaning. Married players would be made aware of what their Wags do daily. Single players would be warned of the responsibilities of married life.
    And the theory that “Work expands to fill the time available” would be proved.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Think I have lost a couple of posts on this one!

  • ClockEndRider

    Me too….

  • Mandy Dodd

    Third time lucky, apologies if similar posts of attempts 1 and 2 appwear! Completely agree with the England self delusion issue. Taking on Beck – you could not make it up, stone age stuff. Like the current England manager, who is a decent man but not exactly a moderniser, and allegedly a disciple of Charles Hughes, the man who keeps English football in the pre-cambrian, stone age is actually too modern to be applied to Mr Hughes. The increasingly deluded and bitter Harry Redknapp is right about one thing, those running the English game dont have a clue, though the appointment of Glen Hoddle offers a chink of light. Arsenal under Wenger once stood alone, going against the English brand of anti football, others have now joined him and are rightly lauded, maybe more than Wenger himself, but Arsenal to this day pay a price for being radical. Still, if all goes wrong for England in the next few days, the press can always shift the blame onto a young Arsenal MF. We have improved hugely in other sports, tennis, cycling etc (ok, a few Scots I know) – but such improvements were not made by bringing back the likes of Beck. International football is now beyond the pale, my only concern over it these days is that our players come back uninjured.

  • ARSENAL 13

    @Walter, The last part of the article, and then Jacks interview. “We are English, we tackle hard, we never give up….”

    Well though I am not english, or dont live in England, I do think he is right. Whats wrong in what he said, rightly supported by Mr Wenger. Nothing wrong if you are born and brought up………but Januzaj????

  • Tasos

    As far as international football goes, things will get a lot worse for England before they can conceivably get any better.

    If you have watched any of this summers youth tournament’s you will quickly acknowledge how far behind the times English football has become.

    I say good luck to Greg Dyke for trying. He has a thankless, some might say hopeless task.

  • I don’t know how natural born English people feel about Wilshere’s comment but as an immigrant and a humanist, it rubbed me the wrong way. While saying that, I must also add that I find the vehemence with which he has been opposed rather harsh and hypocritical of the media and the public.

    Many of Wilshere’s antagonists are only attacking him because of the huge talents of the player in question. If the proposal had been about a mediocre player, he would have had more supporters. BUT he would still have been wrong as his comment would still have sounded rather bigoted and unnecessarily nationalistic.

    The good news in all of this is that the likelihood of Adnan Januzaj picking England on the long list of options before him is between nil and zero.

    England is deluded indeed when it comes to their standing in international football. Sadly, our own Jack shares that delusion.

  • Adam

    Highlights UK issues really, we cannot fix issues from within so have to import the answer, after all we are an importing nation, why should our national team be any different?

    I see Hoddle has abandoned his plans for a private academy since he can no longer indulge in TPO’s and has had little success moving players abroad where he can own a players economic rights, so the FA have given him a “job” and he brings Howard Wilkinson in who has been involved on the “Jira panel” recently. I wonder who is going to be doing all the work?

    UEFA, believe it or not, have everything in place for teams or associations to be successful, if England don’t want to indulge in this combined wealth of European knowledge, then they only have themselves to blame.

    The “Jira panel” are there for exactly this sort of problem, but our hierarchy seem too proud to be educated.

    Thousands of coaches have been meeting for training in Budapest recently, I wonder why our coaches don’t attend these seminars?

  • Adam

    Bootoomee, I’m not sure in what context Wilshere’s comments were made, but there maybe a bigger picture. Someone trying to unsettle the youngster at a time when he is still trying to find his form.

    I think anyone could be caught out on this subject and appear to have a segregating mind-set.

    However, as his comments appear in the media, it pissed me off.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Don’t believe Jack meant anything xenophobic with his comment Bootoomee, he was just directly answering a question, and maybe did not answer it as well as he could have. He is clearly a bit of a patriot, but does not appear to walk the walk of a xenophobe. He never actually said you need to be born in England to play for England, that was media mischief, and he later paid tribute to the likes of KP, Mo Farah, Zaha. Do not think he was suggesting say someone who arrived from a war torn country at a young age or a south African cricketer whose mother is English should not represent England, think he was getting more at non English people using however tenuous links to the country to suit their own, or maybe the FAs agenda, and recent suggestions being put forward for the Utd kid, whose name I will not attempt to spell is a case in point, as would have been Arteta or Almunia playing for England. If that is what he is saying, I tend agree with him, so it seems does Wenger. There are many genuine factors that could quite rightly come into play allowing someone not born and bred here to represent England, but lets keep that honour to these worthy recipients as opposed to a wealthy talented young man of the moment, not a refugee, who has no connection whatsoever to England except by current employment, as opposed to say Strauss, KP, Lennox Lewis (born in West Ham), Mo or a number of others that have been mentioned in connection with this. Some would say Jack needs to be more careful in his words, especially with our media, others would say he is passionate and refreshingly honest. I dont know him so only my own take of course.

  • WalterBroeckx

    If England wants to succeed in international football they have to change their approach and start from scratch. In fact one could say that they should abandon over a hundred years of tradition.

    Apart from my own experience when as a boy we played an English team a few times and we were kicked from left to right and all places in between. 😉 But what I read on more than one occasion when it comes to educating young players is that the ‘get in their face’ or ‘just kick him’ or ‘why don’t you bloody bring him down when he goes past you’ attitude is very much alive in youth football. So it looks as if since the 40 years ago when I visited England as a youth player in a tournament, nothing has changed.

    The football world outside England has changed. I remember when one of my sons had won their league but then went to the next age group and so they had to play teams who were much bigger and stronger and that resulted in them getting a big trashing in their first league game the next season. When I talked to their (well educated) coach and said that it was just down to the difference in power of 12 year old kids playing a team of all 14 years old adolescents.
    And he said no matter how many beatings we get, we will always try to play the game our way as that is the only way forward for them.
    I remember a big strong boy from the opponents who was much bigger and stronger than any other player on the field. He scored 4 or 5 goals each time we played them. He just ran with the ball and bundled the defenders over as if they were feathers of a bird. The other team then won the league and thought that they had a big player in the team. Well big he was in stature but when he turned 16 and the other teams also had some big guys they found out that he actually couldn’t beat an opponent on skill and as his force was outdone by the other players being stronger he suddenly was worthless and couldn’t score another goal.

    These are examples of what is wrong with football. Not just in England but maybe the problem is bigger in England?

    Too much focus on the win a game today (with the big guys) and no focus on skilful play and working towards the future.
    Is it a coincidence that the whole Belgium national team now is in the FIFA top 10 and likely to qualify in a group that 10 years ago we would have been happy if we would have won 2 or 3 games?

    I think people in Belgium have realised earlier that you need to focus more on skill and that power can be added when you have the skills. Not the other way round because it just doesn’t work that way. Or not good enough.

    Lots of this has to do with the fact that many of the young Belgian players like Hazard, Mertens, Vermaelen, Verthongen, etc… have been learning their trade in other countries and thus got a better education than we gave the generation before.

    So more youth coaches with degrees should be brought in to the game. If not then I fear for English football for the next 10 years. In fact I think it will take at least 10 years before the English will be competing again.

  • Mark

    Read Soccernomics it is a great book and has a great chapter on why limiting players from outside England will not help England’s national team. They also point out that England does not have enough young players playing who come from middle class which now out numbers the lower class. The lower class resent intellectuals and push the thinkers out of football. I think this is one of the reasons that the English press hate Wenger, he is an intellectual! So he does not fit the prototype of the English fan and player who are low class and anti intellectual. But if soccer is anything it is a game that requires thinking and players who can think faster then other players are the ones that are successful. Bergkamp was not a fast player but he thought so fast that he surprised people and scored goals and created goals.
    England needs to abandon this low class anti intellectual approach to football if it is going to develop better players.

  • Adam and Mandy,

    Thanks for your words. Please note that I am not accusing JW of being a xenophobe or a bigot; I am only saying that to none English people, his comment comes across as such. He needs to be careful in future because the media (and believe me, it’s always those assholes) will always blow things out of proportion to make a scapegoat of him and present Arsenal as a den of bigots.

    The issue of which country a player represent is not as simple as he described it; as Mandy beautifully explained.

    JW needs to be more diplomatic. He is only 21 to be fair and that is why he should learn to deflect political questions to those in charge of the FA. Or just give the politically correct platitudes like: “Oh, Januzaj is phenomenal player and should he choose to play for England, will contribute positively” ….. and other bullshit answers like that.

  • Walter @2.35pm,

    Great insight as always! Reminds me of the big bullies when I was in early secondary school. By the last year of high school, I was taller than most of them and much more intelligent. They had nothing on me and were my all round bitch.

    Great point from a great man!

  • WalterBroeckx

    About the words of Wilshere.
    Either we opt for internationals and use the nationality of the identity card for deciding who can play for which country. Or we stop them and we play anyone in any team.

    My take is to just stop international country football completely and just play club football. And in such a case the nationality of the player is of no interest at all.

    About that Januzai kid for now he could choose between: Belgium, Albania, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo and in 2015 he also could choose England.
    The problem is that after a while it will become not a question of nationality but rather a question of money. And then you could have as a result that a talented youngster for a poor country would choose to represent a rich country that pays him money to play for his team.

    And after that it will like club football where the richer country will always win from the poor country that has to play with was left over after the rich countries taking away the more talented players.

    I don’t like internationals but if that would become the normal way of doing things I wouldn’t like it at all. If they really want to play ‘for the shirt of their country’ then let it be because of the fact that they are really proud of ‘their country’ and not because they are proud of the money “their country” puts on their bank account.

    I just heard yesterday that somewhere in the a Belgium youth team there is a player playing for Belgium that doesn’t speak any of our 3 official languages, hasn’t lived in Belgium, could choose for a few other countries but plays for Belgium now because he is able to play for them because of one of his parents. Would he have picked Belgium out of the 4 (I think) possible countries to play for if Belgium would be 180th in the world rankings and had no chance at all to perform at any level at all?

    Ah well just fick Fufa and their internationals. Any injured yet????

  • WalterBroeckx

    I always tried to tell my children that they had to think on the field. I always said that even before they got the ball they should have decided what to do with the ball. Keep it, pass it, dribble an opponent. I tried to explain them that the mark of a great player was to think one step before the others.

    I remember their expression on their face : what is he on about, that old idiot. (Oh well not that last bit I think – or hope 😉 ) But they didn’t get it. Alas their career was not a successful one. Always listen to the old wise father I would say. 🙂

    They are better referees by the way than football players. But I told them what to do and how to do when they were older and understood my words and tips better I think. 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thanks Bootoomee. Was worried about how his words would come across to many when I heard them, though some of the media added their own spin, notably the born in England think. But he has to be careful, especially as an Arsenal player, there are sharks out there

  • Adam

    Bootoomee, I’m very cynical when it comes to the UK’s immigration policies and how our media are portraying people.

    We have problems here of “British born” persons not wanting to work or contribute, but also hammer those foreigners who do exactly the same. We set the example.

    Foreigners who work hard are deemed to be doing things the right way but are still considered outsiders, and we give little credit to how hard it must be for someone to relocate and fit in. I can give examples of well educated people being passed-over for promotion because they are foreign and a British person being given preference, even when the company they all work for is from outside the EU, you couldn’t make it up.

    People like myself work hard but pay a heavy price keeping others who don’t contribute.

    I have been met with a certain degree of discrimination, because my partner is “Eastern European” she’s not, she’s from central Europe, but try explaining that to closed minds and all I get is “god you know your geography”, again you couldn’t make it up.

    I have even been witness to local councils ignoring home-office policy when dealing with non-British EU citizens which amounts to organised discrimination even when these people have been granted “indefinite leave to stay”.

    However if we ever have a shortage of workers, our government will allow the importation of people to cover this shortage instead of training within and getting people off benefits.

    We are a quick fix, throw-away nation.

    In other words, we like to have our cake and eat it, but will moan if we find out the pastry chef is French.

  • Adam,

    I hope that I don’t sound condescending when I say welcome to my world.

  • I am sorry that the “lost post” issue is continuing. Believe me I have tried every trick under the sun (including boiling the program) to get this sorted.

    I can only suggest that if you are kindly taking the trouble to send in a comment that is more than a few lines long, you write it in Word or Google Docs or similar and then copy and paste it in.

    I know that is a pain, but I really can’t get to the bottom of the problem, and do actually think it is within the software of Word Press

  • On the immigration issue I do think that many countries have problems with people who look and sound different.

    I’ve mentioned before that I lived in Algiers for a year, and tried hard not to stand out, but in walking home from work at night I clearly was not an Algerian born and bred. Sadly people mistook me for being French (despite my appalling accent) and some threw stones at me.

    Of course the vast majority were kind, friendly, helpful decent people who wanted to show me their country and its culture – and I’d like to think the same is true in the UK.

    Not sure if that is true, but I think on their own, away from journalists and Ukip, most British people are decent and welcoming to everyone who wants to integrate into our society.


    Tony, Many thanks for an insightful article. Maybe England can win the World Cup with this Beck character as team manager. Just think if somehow Tony Pulis and Big Sam were part of his coaching staff, England would as Churchill once said “Set Europe Ablaze” HA HA HA HA.

  • Andrei

    “That’s our problem – playing against foreigners who cheat by being able to cope with hotels”

    This is so good that I’m asking permission to twit it @VeryBritishProblems

    However the biggest English delusion is that they believe that England is still a country. Well that ended in 1707.

  • Gord

    Seeing as Jack is getting up on the “English” issue, maybe this works. 🙂

    If the natural unit of time for the age of a person is 1 year, we might guess that the standard deviation on estimating age to be some multiple of age. For someone 16 years old, the SD would be some multiple of 4. With no justification, we’ll just assume this unknown multiplier is 1.

    If we take 2 people that are 16 years old, currently living in England, where one person has lived continuously in England all their life, and the other person moved to England at some time before their 4th birthday; we would expect that most of the time we would find both of these people to be equally “English”.

    If instead, we take the person born in England and another person who is also 16, but has lived in England less than 4 years, we would expect to find most of the time; that this person who recently moved to England isn’t equally “English”.

    If you believe that (statistical mechanics handwaving), I would suggest the 5 year residency argument does not produce someone who is “English” for anyone who is 16 or older.

    One exception that occurs to me, is the person whose (sp?) parents have been moving from country to country all their life. If the longest this person has lived in any given country is 2 years or less, the 5 year residency requirement would substantially make this person more “English” than anything else.

  • Gord

    Oops, edit required. The standard deviation to be some multiple of the square root of age.

  • para

    I do not really think JW said those things else he would not be wanting to play for Arsenal, they must have taken them out of context. Arsenal is not a long ball team.
    If English football does not wake up and “smell the bacon” they will become non-existent in international football(which i think should be retired anyway). It is enough to have the European cup, which has taken over in popularity anyway.
    If someone is born in England of foreign parents and considers himself English, then to forbid him to play for England would be wrong. Look at Germany, integration is much further ahead than in England, which tends to resort to wanting to “keep the bloodline pure”(i wonder if this is related to those others who are supposed to be following this line of thought, and if so are going to be left behind in this ever changing world, after all there was a time when there was no English, so embrace change people, so that the world may evolve to it’s highest.

  • Tom

    @ Bootoomee . You want a 21 year old footballer with 30% of his body surface covered in graffiti ,who prides himself on dishing out hard tackles as much as some of the Stoke players , to be more measured and politically correct in his interviews because he might upset people???

    I’m far more interested in the kind of talking Wishere does on the field with his feet( like the sublime through ball to Giroud in the West Brom game) than with his mouth off the field but I find his honesty refreshing and I don’t see anything wrong with his comments.

    I’m not English and I don’t reside in England( hell, English isn’t even my second lenguage) so perhaps that’s why I fail to comprehend how his comments might’ve been offensive to anyone.

    If there’s anything Wilshere needs to be mindful of , it’s his profesional approach to football matches. And getting caught with a cigarette outside of a night club isn’t very profesional I’m afraid.

  • colario

    Adam. Central European,Eastern European.

    In understanding these geographical terms there might be a problem.

    As you know Europe Was divided politically by ‘The Iron Curtain’
    Communist countries to the East non communist to the West.
    This gave the mind set for most English people that Eastern Europe began at Hungary,Poland and Czechoslovakia and finished at Russia and the Black Sea. Central Europe consisted of Austria and Switzerland.

    Then the ‘Curtain’ came down and a number of Russian controlled states got back their independence of Russia, countries like Georgia and Armenia on the eastern side of the Black Sea and geographically in Eastern Europe.

    What has happened is that ‘the true’ East of Europe which was lost with the political divide is now recognised. This shift east has meant the the ‘Iron Curtain Eastern Europe’ is now back to being as it was before the ‘Iron Curtain’ Central Europe.

    However if you live at the far end of the west of Europe and added to that on an insular thinking island and used to believing the ‘Iron Curtain’ geography then you continue to believe the ‘Iron Curtain Eastern Europe’. This may be the reason why your wife is regarded as being ‘Eastern Europe’ when she was born in Central Europe.

    I sometimes watch ‘the Weakest Link’. In the first round of questions which is always an easy round the question was ‘In which continent is Belgium?’ The contestant passed!

    Another factor is the ‘Red tops’. These newspapers are for ever denouncing all things European and running smear campaigns about all things mainland Europe.

    We get this with Arsene. The usual reference to Arsene is ‘the Frenchman’, its rare to read ‘Arsene Wenger’ or the Manager. The implication is ‘We remind you he is not English, and that explains why he is not up to standard!’.

  • Tom,

    If you are neither English nor immigrant resident in England then you are probably not in position to comment on this matter. Those who fall into either category, especially the latter will have better understanding. And therefore be able to make better contributions than excuse his comment because he is a great player. You remind me of those excusing Suarez’s racist insult and serial biting because he scores goals.

    You sound silly when you take up adverse positions on issues just to be different or feel smarter than others. My comment on Wilshere is borne of my own experience as an immigrant and a UK resident. You are neither. If you have no empathy, then at least don’t be an instigator.

    By the way, while you are trying to justify Wilshere’s comment, the young man himself has been explaining and backtracking from it. How does that make you feel?

  • colario,

    I think Adam is more concerned about his wife having to explain where she came from than the geography and history of where she came from.

    I do find your comment enlightening though.

  • Stuart


    I too have seen the discrimination first hand. As a recruiter I have had employers tell me they don’t employ Eastern Europeans, I’ve had one phone the office and complain that we sent him ‘Borat’ and if we wanted to keep their business, we wouldn’t send ‘another one’ again. Sad really as from experience, you can 99% guarantee the people from outside the UK will a) turn up on time and b) complete the job on time and c) to at least the required standard as opposed to the British agency worker who is more likely to be the type of person to let you down and have a shoddy standard of work (I must stress here that many native workers are also hard working and have pride in their work). It was only ever the natives who came to see us as this was the only way to keep their benefits. Further to this, I have lost count as to how many natives had 3 parents or 3 grandmothers.

    Onto my first hand experience of discrimination, I have experienced this when relocating from London to Devon. As an outsider, I applied to hundreds of jobs and rarely got invited to interviews. At one of the interviews I did attend (for a role with a multi national recruitment agency), I was asked “why should we employ you when you’re not from round ere?” – they failed to explain how it was relevant so I never answered. I did laugh when they tried head hunting me for their London office recently though.

  • para

    Has anyone who wants to limit foreign players in the PL realised that all this will do is increase the amount of English players who are not up to standard get through the net? You do not need to be a genius to see what effect this will have on the PL. The quality of football will decline, then the money people will leave for other leagues and then PL will become like almost unseen, which is bad bad bad for UK.
    The only way to get more UK players in the PL is to create a system of coaching that will enable the players to improve, systems like in Europe. At the moment only the excellent ones are going through, which is as it should be, or am i missing something here.
    Maybe this planet is still too young to rid itself of nationalism except for administrative purposes. I am a Earthling, Terran, Terraner and really do not see myself as nationalist in any way, except as stated, for administration purposes, but then i’m 60 next month and realise it’s the only way to go forward. Imagine entities from another solar system attacking this our system, they really won’t give a damm if you lived on Earth or on Mars.

  • Tom

    @ Bootoomee .
    It doesn’t make me feel any different about his original position whether he changed it or not.
    My opinion wasn’t about whether his original position was correct or not but rather that he was within his right to speak his mind as long as he didn’t break any rules.

    I didn’t just excuse his comment because he’s a great player( he’s not a great player yet but could be) , I simply didn’t find anything offensive about it. If Wilshere wants to walk it back then that’s his prerogative .

    If you find it silly that sometimes people disagree with your point of view because they genuinely hold a different opinion rather than to annoy you then that’s your problem.

    Comparing my support for Wilshere’s right to speak his mind, to some people’s attempt to excuse Suarez’s racism and biting because he can score goals ,is false equivalence.
    The former is an example of my support for Wilshere’s right to free speech and the latter is an example for some to excuse an illegal act , according to the common law and laws of the game.

    If it makes you feel any better , Mr Wenger offered his support for Wilshere’s comments( not that I care)

  • ARSENAL 13


    May be I,ve sounded like bigote in my 1:00 pm comment, which promoted you post. What I actually wanted to write was “born or brought up” not born and brought up.

    BUT I still stand by my original post, ie Therz nothing wrong in what Wilshere said. A national should represent his country. And by national I mean born or brought up or from parentage…….as an example Frimpong. But not the players like Januzaj.

    And I too dont like internationals. And then therz news coming out that Koscielny is injured…

  • ARSENAL 13

    Oops but Frimpong thinks he is more Ghanaian than English….
    To change my example… Jenkinson.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I think England lost the plot when teams started to follow the example of the ‘wingless wonders ‘after winning in 1966.
    Old fashioned wingers in the mould of Best , Ian Moore , Morgan were not encouraged , instead hard working ‘midfielders ‘ running from box to box were feted.
    Steve Coppel was one .
    In the seventies most team would be 4-4-2 away and 4-3-3 at home , although 4-2-4 were often seen .Now we see the dawn of the ‘false centreforward ‘.
    My intrest in the England team ended when they lost at home
    3-1 to W.Germany and in the return put out a very defensive
    team in the return – Peter Storey and Norman Hunter ??
    That 1-1 draw with Poland at home was the final nail .

  • Arsenal 13,

    If I have an issue with your comment, I will address my response to you. That is my style. I don’t do passive-aggressive. I have no issue with you. We can agree or disagree on whether JW’s comment is right, although I think the fact that he has been explaining and backtracking from it shows that even he, on retrospection, have realised that it wasn’t the wisest thing to say.

    To us foreigners living in the UK (and those like Adam who have relationships with immigrants) his comment sounded unnecessarily nationalistic or xenophobic. That’s why there have been the uproar; although I think most of the complainants are hypocrites who are only upset because JW opposes the idea of Januzaj playing for England.

    As Mandy explained @2.23pm, the decision on which national team a player represents is much more complicated than JW put it. It is a very political question and he should in future just defer such to the FA.

  • Tom,

    Free speech is a cop out; a kind of one-size-fits-all excuse used often arbitrarily to support whatever offensive comment we want to support. By the way, free speech only works if the accused is being punished (in legal or official sense) for what they say. No one is punishing Wilshere for his comment. Just as he has free speech to say that the English national team should only be for English people, us non-English people and our ‘sympathisers’ also have the free speech to tell him that his opinion is wrong.

    Jack Wilshere and Arsene Wenger are 2 of my favourite people in the whole world but I have no reason to agree with their every word or take cue from them on how I see things, especially on issues outside of Arsenal.

    My initial (and yes, angry) response to you was because you tried to make light of how those of us who disagree with him feel while stating that you actually don’t share our experience. You can’t berate people for their feelings on an issue while acknowledging that you don’t share their experience with respect to the issue.

    It will be like a celibate man telling women not to complain if somebody makes a comment that they disagree with on abortion rights.

  • Adam

    Just to clarify my position, if the home office has given someone indefinite leave to stay, they should be allowed to indulge in representing their adopted nation.

    Also, and this maybe more complex, but those with dual or multiple nationalities should be able to chose which nation they will represent before the beginning of each tournament.

    Freedom of choice and respect to a persons heritage, as at the moment international football rules make a person choose one nation and culture over another.

    We have rules already where a player can only represent one club during a tournament, what is the difference at international level, as long as the player can handle, maybe playing against his dual or multiple nations.

    Freedom of choice.

    Colario, I know where your coming from, we divide land up to suit the latest political might. I split land up by cratons & shields, most people don’t get that. So to confuse some, I tell them I originated from the Ethiopian shield.

    Stuart, what labour do you supply? I have just agreed to go back to the NHS on a temporary contract.

    Mr Attwood, weird you should mention Algerian, the lovely lady I wanted to be godmother to my son is a well educated French/Algerian Muslim, she works with my better half within the pharmaceutical industry and has been met with discrimination from the British engineers she works with, something about those university educated engineers in England turns most of them in to idiots, ah well, office politics. But I expect more from my fellow countrymen, maybe they fear her.

    Sorry for the long post all.

  • colario

    In my post at October 10, 2013 at 7:25 pm I am not trying to defend racialism just trying to explain the thinking behind ‘Eastern Europe and Central Europe’ plus the fact that many English people are ignorant of mainland Europe They are dependent of the stereotypes that have been given them by the media (not just the red tops) for their understanding of all matters foreign.

    There is also the ‘economic factor’ (which is a big headache for political parties.

    Put it on a personal level. You work along side someone from another country, you like them, you respect them for the person they and their work effort. However a member of your family – a friend – neighbour can do the same job to the same ability but that person is out off work and has been for sometime. I think its human nature that you would want the person you know to have that job and not someone from abroad.

    Sadly and wrongly most ‘anti foreign’ is due to racialism. I see it where I live in Central Europe.

  • Adam

    Colario, I didn’t mean to make you defend your position. When people speak of European locations, my mind immediately goes back to the expansion of early man, that’s how my mind works, when there were no man made borders.

    And, if we’re all honest about this then my genetic make up probably passed through Europe some ages back. So I really do have to respect all histories as we are interconnected.

    Mongoloid’s are the most common followed by Caucasian and Negroid. But we split even further with nationalities and cultures and to complicate issue further, ideologies.

    I would prefer it if we just considered each other as a friend. Most do, but some love to segregate us from one another.

    I think most of us on here are on the same page. I hope this comes across as friendly.

  • Stuart

    Yes Adam, and we are split even further into AAA and AKB etc…. just joking.

  • colario

    Adam. You do come across as friendly.

    My last post was an after thought realising that if someone wanted to they could claim I was supporting racialism in my first and I am not.

    I thought to write and try to be as clear as possible that I am not supporting racialism. My first post was only to consider the mind set of many English people as well as their ignorance about mainland Europe.

  • Adam

    Stu, kiss my ass. wind up merchant, funny though.

  • Stevie E

    Hi all
    I know I’m joining this debate very late, but I read something in the Metro this morning which, for me, made a total mockery of this whole thing Jack has unfortunately got himself caught in the middle of.

    Before I go any further, I’ll nail my colours to the mast and say straight away, I agree with Jacks sentiment. I think his comments have been over simplified and twisted to suit the media narrative. I believe his sentiment applies to any country, not just England. Let’s, for the sake of argument say the country in question is Spain. I believe if a player has Spanish parents, grandparents, or if not was born in Spain or has been in Spain since a young age, he can be classed as Spanish and therefore play for Spain. I don’t think that a young man who has no link to the country though parentage, birth or “time served” should play for that country. What’s the point of a national team if the players aren’t of that nationality? I mean, what’s the point of a national team anyway but that’s for another day 🙂

    So this article which inflamed me this morning was an interview with 33 year old England Captain Steven Gerrard entitled “Steven Gerrard: Foreign chop can stop England rot”. He explains how he believes the FA chairman’s attempt to “half the number of foreigners allowed in the country” is a good start, conveniently ignoring the fact that the England team has been in decline since way before the EPL and influx of foreign players into the UK. He even went on to hang Jack out to dry by disagreeing with his statement by saying “If players become available through Fifa rules, it’s only right that the FA look in to it”.

    Now, these highly provocative statements (among others) has been fully embraced or ignored by those in the media who have condemned a young man, who when asked a deliberately leading question, pretty much said nothing more than to play for a National team, you should be of that Nationality. That’s it. Not, get these foreigners out of England. Not, all these foreigners are ruining England. Nope, he just said to play for a National team, be of that Nationality.

    Something’s not right here is it? Steven Gerrard is basically saying don’t allow foreigners into the league, but if a good one happens to get in, sign him up to play for England. Media reaction, yep. Jack says National teams should be made up of those nationalities. Media reaction, utterly tear him apart.

    I honestly cannot understand what is going on here. Why is Jack being utterly torn apart in the media for a simple, innocent comment, whereas, Gerrard is pretty much presenting the UKIP manifesto and no one bats an eyelid?

    This has nothing to do with Jacks comments, this has nothing to do with a Belgian teenager playing for England. He’s been absolutely set up here.

    Something else which caught my eye, headlines of a “fierce debate” between Jack and Kevin Peterson on Twitter have been massively exaggerated. I saw this debate, it consisted of KP asking Jack does he think he and other England cricketers shouldn’t be allowed to play for England, and Jack replying that he was talking about football, nothing else. That’s all that happened, this row, disagreement, war of words was 2 tweets. Nothing more.

    The knives are out for Jack, don’t be sucked in, something is very wrong here.

  • Stevie E,

    As you must have deduced from my earlier comments, we disagree on this issue but I respect you and your position.

    Having said that, Steven Gerrard’s position on the matter i.e. “If players become available through Fifa rules, it’s only right that the FA look in to it” is precisely the diplomatic response that JW should have given. In the end, it’s only up to the FA so why get yourself into trouble over what you very little control?

    I’m surprised that you don’t like Gerrard’s response but with the shitstorm that Wilshere is facing, he would be complete moron to tow the same line as JW in public even if that’s precisely how he feels.

    As I said earlier, JW will over time learn to give diplomatic answers (or more honestly, non-answers) to controversial questions.

  • Tom


    Your choices of analogies to prove a point smack of desperation .
    You also accuse me of “berating people for their feelings”, perhaps you don’t understand the meaning of the word “berate” because I’ve done no such a thing.

    I could perhaps understand your “angry” response to my original ( pretty laid back ,I thought) post ,as by your own admission this is a subject you seem to hold dear ( so no problem there) but I seem to remember your angry responses to other posters who had the audacity to politely disagree with you on a whole variety of topics. I’m not a psychologist ( I just play one on the web) but maybe you should look into that.

    As for the” free speech” aspect of our mini argument, I used it in tandem with ” didn’t brake any rules” as there are plenty of examples of free speech that violate rules of conduct in a free society ( I’m not a lawyer, I just play one on the web)

    And finally, I have plenty of empathy for the plight of immigrants. I have been one for most of my adult life as I applied my trade in four different countries on two continents . As a matter of fact Wilshere’s comments have a lot more to do with a situation I might’ve been in some time ago than you can imagine.

    I just don’t find them offensive , that’s all.

  • Stuart

    IMO, Gerrards comment is the racist one that should be condemned. Basically it insinuates that we should stop letting foreigners in (and in typical racist person fashion) unless they’re alright. Reminds me of a mate of mine who used to say he doesn’t like black people – except Jonathon, (a black friend of ours) he’s alright.

  • Tom,

    I guess you are fighting the battle of those that “politely disagree” with me in choosing to go after my ‘free speech’ on Wilshere’s comment. I’m not really a fan of polite conversations unless they are honest. I will take an expletive laden but intellectually honest tirade over long winded articles that are full of lies and distortions anyday. But that’s me.

    In your very first comment on this thread, you tried to tell me which is more important between what Wilshere says and how he plays. Well, I am capable of deciding what is worthy of my attention. Thank you.

    My analogy is spot on even if it makes you uncomfortable. You cannot tell me to chill about an issue while also saying: “by the way, I am not affected by the issue in anyway”. How is that different from celibate men lecturing women on how to react on abortion rights issues?

    You can be offended or comfortable with the comment but please don’t tell me how to feel about it.

  • Stuart,

    I utterly disagree with the suggestion of limiting number of foreign players in the EPL to give mediocre English ones the opportunity to flourish. Gerrard’s comment is along that line and it is wrong. I have taken interest in Jack’s comment because he plays for Arsenal and happens to be a player and person that I like.

    Gerrard’s comment on foreign born players representing England is more diplomatic and it is the sort of answer that I hope Wilshere will be giving in future when asked loaded questions.

  • Adam

    If we look at the amount of non-British talent in the championship, we can deduce that the premier league is not the problem. It’s financial, in that teams that have the money will go after the best players available according to their budget and not the players passport.

    There have been suggestions at restructuring the championship into a premier league 2, and all solidarity payments split more evenly to combat this yo yo effect we see with some clubs.

    But just this will not help the national team, for me we have to change the acceptance of British footballers that they can earn a living in England. We need to be exporting more talent. We need to be telling these kids that they can make it in Belgium & other EU nations.

    Another way would be to fund sporting projects as after school clubs or weekends, but again this is linked with available and well trained coaches.

    I do like the German model of a percentage of a clubs solidarity payments going to their academies. If we did bring the championship inline and implemented this, we would have more established academies for our youngsters.

    Private academies are a possible way forward but again we come up against a financial wall. Although the FA FIFA & UEFA could make this possible if they allowed solidarity payments to private academies, then any players entering the professional game would through transfer fee solidarity payments, be contributing to the continuation of these academies, but again the academies would only survive through their own successes.

    The EU allowed the football industry an exemption by allowing the collective bargaining for TV deals, this could be put to better use and the ECJ/EEC could insist we put more of the solidarity payments into grass roots.

    Otherwise we allow third party ownerships in England so private investors (academies) can help with a youngsters education, with the promise of profit at a later date, but we should all know the pro’s & con’s of that model.

    We have the infrastructure in place in this country, what we are missing is the personnel (coaches), finances and legal framework to make this happen.

    I believe the kids are willing, we just need to give them the tools to succeed.

  • Stuart

    We only have the incredible mix of nationalities in one place because the premier league is (was?) the best league in the world. Ambitious people naturally wish to ply their trade in the best market which is the reason for the numbers being mentioned. To think of it the other way around, why would someone choose to go and play in say for example Malta (no offence to Malta) when they can play in the same standard competition in the UK.

    (by the way, I have played a Friendly game against a Maltese team called Hibernians FC whilst on holiday there in case anyone wonders why I picked Malta to highlight the meaning of my comment)

  • Adam

    What I’m saying Stuart is that the Premier league is not the problem anymore. The restructuring of the league system had a bigger impact, along with TV money. What I’m stating is money is the problem, so whilst teams can afford the best they will scour the world for them, and that includes the majority of the championship teams shopping for international players.

    In no way would I suggest a restriction on foreign nationals playing in English leagues. More along the lines of, forcing the clubs to take responsibility of grass roots football in England.

    Because whilst we are importing some others countries talent (outside of the big five), we are stealing that countries opportunity at having a self sustaining successful league.

    It works both ways.